We have a ball shortage. Because someone keeps losing their ball. A ball that costs money. $25.99. That’s a very expensive ball. It was lost for a week and the woman who paid for it was lamenting the loss as though she’d been robbed. Then miraculously, the ball was found. Eureka! And we were so happy to have it back that we ate it. Yes, that’s how emotions get expressed around here. With our teeth. Mine grit in pain, frustration, and regret. Pete’s chomping in pure pleasure. The pleasure of destruction, ripping seams, exploding foam, shredding stuffing, and shards of orange plastic. He is deliriously happy. Even though it means the destruction of his favorite ball. That ball. The big orange ball. The one that cost $25.99. The one we bought because it was indestructible and could not be lost because it was so big and so tuff. Pete ate it. And he has no regrets. Because what is a ball for if not to have fun? And what is more fun than wrecking something? It’s the purest expression of power. Tear it apart, crush it, rip it into tiny pieces until it is completely unrecognizable for what it once was. Apex dopamine. $25.99. Gone. With pleasure. Because Pete has no regrets.
How can I be more like my dog? My regrets are a rabbit hole with a volcano at the bottom. If I stay down there too long I come up like hot lava and it takes days to recover from the destruction. My brain chemistry turns to ash and smiling gives me a headache. I can’t find it in myself to be satisfied. Nothing I do is good enough. Once that critical feedback loop gets launched, it’s hard to stop. The negativity creates its own momentum. On my mental playground, the regret rabbit hole is an aluminum slide with a garden hose of brain chemistry running down the chute to make it slick. I descend. Grease my inner mud wrestler and fight with myself. Until down goes Frazier! My regrets reduce me. I’m ambivalent about myself. I’m ambivalent about Pete.
God, I hate puppies! How did I forget that? He’s nothing but trouble. I didn’t have kids for a reason. I don’t have the patience for this. I may seem like a nice person on the surface, but believe me, I’m not. I kick puppies. That’s just who I am. Cringe if you must. But Pete can be so annoying. He steals my garden gloves, pulls them out of my trudge and I find them in the lawn. I just bought a new trowel with a sharp edge and a wooden handle. He’s decided it’s a stick. I find him chewing on it. He digs holes! My rotten luck. Pete is a hole digger, and there is nothing easier to dig up than something that’s just been planted. Ponder that. At night he hunts for tissues and paper-towels in the trash, shreds them on the rug, maybe throws up a little. He jumps on me when he’s dirty. He leaves paw prints on the floor. There’s a brown spot on the bedspread where he sleeps.
In short, Pete is inconsistent with my need for order. Order as I define it. My kind of order. The order that centers on me. And so, regrets. Why did I get Pete? I’m a control freak. If I’m not in control of the process, I start to feel lost, like I don’t know where I’m going. Brain rains doubt. Everything feels slow and irrelevant. This is going nowhere. How did I get it so wrong? Why did I do this to myself? Regrets. Equations for failure. I obsess on them. They encroach on my identity, and I disappear into them. Then Pete throws me a lifeline. Don’t live in the past, he says. Here, have a bite of this ball.